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Last Words

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Last words

 

Spoken as she breathed her last,

Her words would always haunt me.

As the death rattle gripped her,

“Thank God, at last I’m free.”

 

Words spoken in the heat of ire,

‘Ere he walked beyond the door.

“I hate you!” flung from anger.

Now he’s gone to hear no more

 

Last words, yes we may never know,

When words spoke will be our last.

So make them soft and well thought out.

For our time goes by so fast.

 

Last words entombed forever there,

In our minds for joy or regret;

For these words can be a heritage,

Or these words can be a debt.

 

Copyright 2/7/2010 Angela Masters Young

 

This poem was created in response to a Poetry Challenge by ClownRhymes on his(?) blog.  There is still time to join in if you wish.

This challenge, different to each person entering a poem, started the cogs moving.

 

Last Words as a Heritage

When we talk about last words, we often think of words spoken by a dying person to someone at his or her bedside.   We listen carefully to these last words, spoken by one we love.  We know we will hold on to them as long as we hold on to the memory of all this person means to us.  It is the cap on the heritage of a life.   Not all of us will have the opportunity to speak, or hear, the last words of our loved ones.  We never know when the words we speak will be our last, the last ones we leave with the hearer in this lifetime.

Last Words as a Horror

In the second stanza of the poem, a person screams words he or she cannot recall.  These turn out to be last words because the other person is gone (death in this case) and can no longer hear the words of regret pouring out of the screamer’s heart.  We never know when will be the last time we see someone, what will be the last words spoken.  This should urge us to always make sure the words we leave someone with will not leave us with a heart full of regret.

 

Do you keep in mind that your words may be “last words” to someone or for someone?  

What other kinds of last words do you think we can have? 

What do you want your last words to be?

As life has taught me this lesson the hard way, I want to always say, “I love you!” because they may be the last words that person hears or that person hears from me.

Communication Busters: Civility in politics?

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In a read-worthy article in Christianity today called “The Cure for Election Madness [How to be political without losing your soul]” , Amy E. Black brings up some very good points about the political situation today.  Having recently been cursed out and called a few names by those who disagree with me politically and having them point out I’m a highly unintelligent ignoramous for my beliefs, I know exactly what she means when she discusses the lack of civility in politics.  This is nothing new, but it seems to have escalated to a great degree.

Distractors

When a person stoops to name-calling, all real debate, all communication has ceased to exist.  Both sides of the US political scene have been guilty of the incivility, especially as they approach the 2012 election cycle.  Lacking the ability to debate one’s own beliefs or substantiate one’s own claims leads to an attempt to take the voter’s eyes off the real issues.  Mud-slinging is nothing but a distractor from the real issues.  It does what the name implies and covers all the issues with mud, so that you, the voter, can only see mud – everything gets ‘muddied’, muddled, and mutilated.  It also distracts from the fact that the mud-slinger cannot express him/herself in any other way.

What about you?

Most of us have come to accept, even though we dislike it, the idea that politicians are going to dig up the other candidates, great-great-great-great-grandfather’s sordid affair with the midwife and other such superfluous issues.  However, if you discuss politics at all, you must realize that the candidates are not the only one’s slinging mud.  What happened to civility?  Why do we have to put others down for not believing as we do?  They do have the right to be wrong!  So do you!

Amy Black writes:

“If we are to seek peaceful solutions and honor God in politics, we Christians of all people must avoid such hateful talk. James 4:11 commands us to “not slander one another,” an exhortation that should extend beyond how we treat other believers. Whether talking with friends or campaigning for our favorite candidate or cause, we should engage our political opponents and their ideas with respect, welcome the opportunity to learn from other perspectives, and find ways to disagree charitably as a natural part of the political process.”

►Engage other’s ideas with respect

All people deserve respect, even if they are wrong.  Since God is very clear that none of us really understand or get it right all the time, how arrogant are we to think that our beliefs (those not specifically spelled out in the Bible) are the correct ones and that means we can disrespect who we want for whatever reason we want?  [“There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” Romans 3:11]  To be blunt:  this too is sin.  This does not mean we have to be politically correct and bow down before the forces of evil.  It does mean we disagree in a respectful, Christ-honoring manner.  Jesus was known to call a few people names, such as ‘whited-sepulchers’, but we are not Jesus.  Jesus was speaking of their spiritual condition, and pointing out the hypocrisy of their religious trappings without a relationship with their creator.

►Welcome the opportunity to learn from others

“Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”  Proverbs 27:17   I frequently find, in civil discourse, that I discover some new aspect of something.  It may even lead to a change of mind, change of focus, or at least a shared understanding.  It is the lack of civil discourse which leads folks to start thinking of themselves more highly than they ought, believing they are the true founts of knowledge from which all others must drink.  Once again:  how arrogant!  At the bottom of this tendency is pride:  bow to my wishes, ideas, political beliefs, etc., or I’ll make you wish you had!  I don’t know about you, but when people go on the attack, I don’t want to discuss with them any more.  Some people seem to like arguing, but I don’t like arguing just for the sake of arguing.  That is drama.  I do enjoy a good debate, however, where each side presents their ideas in civility, actually listening to the other person instead of eating them alive for daring to disagree.  It is when we isolate ourselves from the ideas of others (not accepting, but treating the person with respect) that we become narrow-minded hypocrites, full of self, seeking to make others into a carbon copy of us.

►Find ways to disagree charitably

Agreeing to disagree (in the political arena and elsewhere) allows us to share with one another, sharpen one another, and change society as a whole.  Regardless of what you think about my beliefs, ideas and ideals, feel free to agree or disagree, but please don’t scream at me, curse at me or call me names.  People are always in the teaching process.  When someone does the above, he or she has taught me something.  When a person is disrepectful, he or she has taught something.  People constantly teach others about something through their words and deeds:  they give a glimpse into their character, that inner person.  Civil discourse teaches others that while you uphold your own beliefs, you are willing to listen respectfully to others, and maybe, just maybe, learn something in the process.

God cares about the way we argue

“We shouldn’t retreat from the public square and we should work to build a better society. But I’m convinced that God cares about the way we argue as much as He cares about  the issues we espouse.”  This quote from Daniel Darlings blog post “Some great advice for the election season,” [where I discovered the Amy E. Black article].  As we dive into the debates, caucases and general election melee, God is watching and listening.  He cares about how you present yourself to the world.  He calls all of us to love, even when we disagree with one another!

 

Have you been guilty of mistreating another who disagrees with you?

Have you ever been on the recieving end of such?

How do you respond when others disrespect your beliefs or your right to have and express your beliefs, especially in the political arena?

How do you respond when others disagree with you?   Have you ever evaluated or prayed about your response?

You may be the only Jesus some people see.  Evaluate your ideals, beliefs and actions in light of the Scripture, and then go out as a light in the darkness and as salt to savor a bland world, debating with civility and the keeping the real enemy in mind.

“Does He Ever Write Back?

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“Watching my little buddy today and he found my Prayer Journal, and as all three year olds do asked, “What is was?”  Told Him it is where I write letters to God.  Very seriously flipping through the pages he asked, “Does He ever write back?”

A friend of mine posted the above on facebook a few days ago.  Her “little buddy” is a 3 year old named Logan.  He is an adorable little cutie that thinks of my friend as a grandma.  Isn’t it funny what kids say?  Little Logan hit the nail on the head.

He sent us the first love letter 

Thinking about this, I have to say how blessed we are – we already have His letter!  He wrote it long before we were born and left it for us to read while He’s ‘away’.  Imagine treating a love letter from your significant other like you treat the Bible.  Some of you will be able to bow out here, but most of us struggle to keep in the Word, reading it, studying it, learning it, and especially applying it.  We often have the urge to do so, but we let life get in the way.  If we really valued this love letter, sealed in the blood of Jesus Christ, we would have a passion that cannot be denied to be in it with every second we could.  Instead, how many can raise their hand to say, “I often have to make myself read the Bible.”  (Or, my Bible is seldom cracked open, much less read.)                                                                                                       But God commendeth His love toward us….(Rom. 5:8)

Intentions    

We often have good intentions, especially after a particularly good sermon, after a revival, or after some other thing lights our fire for the Lord.  But it doesn’t take long for the flame to burn out.  We go back to not doing anything because we’re too ‘busy’, or we trudge along, dragging one foot after the other to do our ‘duty’.   We even want to do it sometimes, but habit takes over and relegates the love letter to the bottom of our ‘to do’ list.

The Helper – NOT!

One issue is lack of commitment.  Another is lack of discipline.  I’m sure there are many more, but there’s also the fact that the enemy, Satan, does NOT want you to read it.  He does not want you to stay close to the love of your life (yes, I mean God).  He is a deciever, but he’s a clever deceiver who makes the counterfit look really good.  One thing my dad always used to tell us when we couldn’t sleep:  “Pray, read the Bible, or witness to the Devil, you’ll be asleep before you know it.”  Sadly, that is true.

Passive Christianity  

Christianity is not passive.  It is a vital relationship with God, and it requires sacrifice and work to maintain.  Just like marriage relationships, one must work at it.  In a passive marriage, the couple will drift slowly apart and wake up one day wondering what happened to the marriage.  It’s the same with our relationship with God.  He gave us a passionate, detailed love letter for us to read while He’s “away”.   What would you think if you gave your sweetie a love letter and he/she just said, “Oh, that’s nice,” and tossed it in a drawer unread?  Passive Christianity is not Christianity at all.

Passionate Christianity

Instead of passive Christianity, it is imperitive that we move to passionate Christianity.  Treat the Scripture like the valuable love-letter it is.  Seek to get as close to God as you possibly can and then put things in place that will help you get there.   It will require discipline; it will require sacrifice; it will require an intentional life, given over to your Love.   Remember back to the first time you fell in love?  You wanted to be with the person all the time.  If you couldn’t be with them, you were together on the phone.  Love letters were cherished and read and reread and put in a special place.  The pulse skyrocketed when he/she came in sight.  You get the picture.  If this is not your relationship with God, it’s time to get that love letter out, caress it, read it, study it, reread it, memorize it, treat it like the priceless treasure it is.

Are you passionate about God and the things of God?

Are you passionate about your Scripture reading/study/etc., giving it top priority instead of letting it collect dust all week?

Do you want to please Him or do you just do the minimum requirements to call yourself a Christian? 

What are some steps you can take to go from passive Christian to passionate soul-mate of almighty God?

Was there a time when you had more passion for the things of God than you do now?  What happened?

The Family and Communicating – To Be or Not To Be?

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Family is a funny thing, especially when it comes to ‘communication’ issues.  Wouldn’t you think people who live with one another would have some kind of sixth sense about communication?  It never fails to make me shake my head in wonder when I have a seemingly straightforward with one of my own only to find out actual communication never happened.                                                                                                                                        

Selective hearing? 

Image by clarita at http://mrg.bz/gyKDsp

My daughter, who I love dearly by the way, tends to hear one set of instructions.  So if I want her to do something (will I ever learn!?) I need to break it down into bite-sized chunks and/or write it down.  Sometimes, even writing it down is not enough. ::sigh::

I recently sent my daughter to the store for ice cream and chips.  I wrote down the instructions and then carefully went over them.  I wanted a small bag of chips; that she got.  The ice cream is what got her, though. I said I do not want the teeny tiny portion (5 oz) and I do not want a half-gallon.  Using my fingers, I showed her about what size I wanted to have.  All went well up to this point.  Head is nodding; message understood.

Then momma made a mistake.  I said, “I want you to keep it as cheap as possible as well.”  Did that negate the size factor?  Yes, it did.  She came in after her trip to the store and handed me one of the teeny tiny portions of ice cream. (Not enough for a good bite!)  After brief, um, ‘discussion’, it turned out that she heard cheap, blah, blah, blah.

If that wasn’t enough for one of those ‘shaking the head’ moments, she proceeds to pull out a container of ice cream she bought for herself – the size I wanted!  Unfortunately, it was a different kind, but still!  Why would I send her to the store with my money to buy me a cheap portion of something and herself a larger one?  Sadly, this is the story of my life.  She hones in on one thing and the rest is just Mom idly flapping her gums.

Mind-reading – on the defensive?  

Then the other day, after watching her hunched over her cell phone when she was supposed to be keeping an eye on the kids, I asked, “Who is he?”  You would have thought I asked to see her internal organs or something judging by her reaction.  “I always have to defend myself” and “I’ll just never have any friends” are two of the phrases that came out of her mouth.  Defensive much?  Will she ever learn that the instant attitude gives ol’ Mom a huge clue?

So in the space of a portion of a second, she read my mind.  I said, “Who is he?” but my mind must have said something like, “What in the world are you talking to that boy for – you’re never going to learn.”

Common to Mankind?

I apologize to my daughter (24 btw) for using her for an example here, but she provides such great fodder.  We all have a tendency to do this, especially in families.  We have remembered ‘slights’ or other things that filter our reactions (and our ability to actually listen) to others in our family.  No wonder families sometimes have drama and communication issues.

So what experiences have you had with family member communication?  We all have them.  We’ve all done it.  I bet a few of my readers can top my stories, so feel free to share.

Communication Busters: You should do for me what I do for you!

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“I did __________ for you.  Why won’t you do ____________ for me.”

Have you ever known someone who does things for you and then says, “Well, I did that for you, so you should do it for me?”

Word to the Wise.

People have a tendency to do (give, etc.) for others what we like to have done for us.  If we like something, of course everyone else should like it too!  Right?  Uh, NOT!  I once had a person in my life who would bring me clothing.  She loved the clothes and always commented that they were ‘huge’ so they should fit me.

  1. They were exactly what she would wear.
  2. They were exactly what I would NEVER wear.
  3. I usually couldn’t get them over my ankle, much less the rest of my body.

I could have responded in any one of several ways (and I’m sure my readers have a few comments they can call to their imaginations).  All of them would have brought me momentary satisfaction, but they would have hurt someone I cared enough to have a relationship with.  However, I tried to remember that she thought she was doing me a big favor, so I said thank you and gave them back as a bad fit.

Why we do it.

It’s a common human failing.  We all do it.  Hopefully, we grow up, wise up, and learn to listen and watch for what other people like.  If we like something, we think others should like it to.  This goes back to the previous communication busters posted here.  1) It’s NOT all about me and 2) My ‘way’ is not the only way or even always the best way for others.  We don’t mean to do it, but we do it none-the-less until we become aware of the issue.  Some of us tend to do it much more than others.

A back pat for the hubs.

I have to give my husband credit.  He is really good at seeing what others like and offering them things, doing things for them, …, that they like.  He doesn’t just do things to get things, he is genuine and a good listener (most of the time).  Me?  I tend to forget, even after asking what someone’s favorite…. is.  I tried writing it down only to lose the lists.  My family understands, but…

Where the rubber meets the road.

When it comes to things, this isn’t really such a big deal.  Where the major problem comes in is when a person does something for another person and then gets angry if the other person doesn’t do it back.  Why?  Because this person gives what he/she would like to have from the other person (sometimes in the hopes that person will do it back).  This could be as simple as a pat on the back or as complicated as trying to get others to love him/her through, well, let’s call a spade a spade:  manipulation.

Example number two.

I had a friend who made a sad face and said ‘awwww’ in a sad voice when there was something going on in my life — a  kind of friendly pity party type thing.  What does it do for me?  Um, get off me!  I don’t like it at all, so guess what?  I don’t do it back, even though I am well aware that’s what this person really needs from me.  Well, I try to do it some because I know it’s needed, but ….

Love Languages

The problem with this, and how it is detrimental to communication, is that it involves speaking different languages.  We all have different ways we show love, and these are the ways we understand love as well.  So when we show our love to someone who speaks a different love language (friendship language, etc.) it is like a person who speaks only English trying to communicate with someone who speaks only Russian.  It really sets the table for a mess of miscommunication.  This idea is not original to me.  Gary Chapman wrote a book or two about it.

Manipulation/Control

The above examples show how people do this inadvertently.  Sometimes, however, a person can become controling and manipulative in their attempt to give love to get love.  It doesn’t work.  The smart person realizes that she will get the love she’s wanted when she learns to speak other love languages besides her own.  This must be geniune, however, or it still falls under manipulation.  The people in this category often lose friends and have no idea why.  They give and give and give with no return, or so they think.  The problem is with their thinking.  In many ways, they tend to be more needy than those that are obvious about it.

Love is…

The thing is that when we care about another person, we want that person to feel our love/like/care.  Misunderstandings are frequent when we don’t tune in to their likes and needs instead of offering them our own.  Real love, real communication happens when we listen to others, understand them, and seek to meet their needs in a genuine way.  It’s not about us.  If they love us back, that’s great, but we shouldn’t ‘love’, ‘care for’, etc., them expecting them to do back what we do to/for them.  When we do for others with expectations of return, we are not really doing for others. We are doing for “me”.

Communication Buster: My Way is the Best (Only) Way

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Backseat drivers, Monday morning quarterbacks and critical people all slip into the niggling habit of criticizing others. It’s easy to do. We look at our others and wonder why they do what they do. After all, we’d never do it that way. . .       Dr. David B. Hawkins

Anyone who has been married knows that one of the biggest clashes of the early years involves the melding of two cultures.  We have a tendency to think that what we think or do is the correct way to do something.  When we wake up to someone who has a different view of what’s correct (his or her way) it can be a rude awakening!

My marriage has not excaped this wondrous communication buster.  My husband’s grandmother was very rigid in her ways, one of those ‘my way or the highway’ kind of gals.  When I began to understand this, it helped me understand some of my husband’s less than stellar (in my opinion) habits.  When my husband began to understand that I was raised in a very non-structured home that centered on people not things, he began to understand some of my less stellar habits (his opinion of course).

What’s Wrong With You?

In the beginning, we fell into the judgment trap.  “What’s wrong with you?”  Why don’t you get this?”  “Why are you being so mean to me?”  The interpretation of that last statement is this:  why do you expect me to conform to your expectations?  Unfortunately, we don’t recognize the underlying causes of our pain.

One of absolutely huge issues was . . . laundry.  I am a take a day and do it all kind of gal.  My husband is always putting a load in.  I’m sometimes surprised we survived this one! What happened in the end was that Brian got to do the laundry.  This is one of the negative side-effects of being rigid in how you think things should be done – you get to do it.

Believe me, there are things I get to do for the same reasons!

It’s Not About Me!

To overcome this tendency to judge everyone else’s choices and more by our own  heritage and culture, we have to go back to communication buster 1 and recognize that “it’s not about me.”  Ultimately, there are many ways to do something. Some may work better than others, but all (or most) are still going to get the job done.

Breaking the Habit

This habit is so ingrained that it is difficult to recognize it, much less fix it.  Again self-awareness comes to the rescue.  When communication issues arise, and they will, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I judging based on the truth or based on my own biases and filter?
  • If I let the other person do things his/her way, will it get done?
  • If I DON’T let the other person do things his/her way, will the world come to an end?
  • Is this an issue that’s worth fighting over?
  • Do I want to be right, or happy?
  • Am I viewing this issue through the filter of my own upbringing or through divine moral law?
  • Have I become judgmental and critical?

S-S-S-S

When you begin to see a problem, you can begin to change.  It again involves

Self-awareness  (study your reactions and judgments)

STOP!                 (take a moment to re-evaluate and change course)

Start again with your new-found knowledge/understanding.

Stay the course over the long haul.

This habit is deeply ingrained, and won’t be overcome in a day.  But, one step at a time, you can change this thought process that leads to actions that shut down your ability to effectively communicate with others.

Share Time:

Have you done this?

Are you aware of this tendency?

What’s the funniest story you have to share about a time when this happened to you?  (or by you)

Communication – do ya know what I mean?

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Do ya know what I mean?

Obviously, at least to me, the title is a play on the saying “do you know what I mean?”  Communication is key to everything we do in life, whether we communicate with God, our spouse, our kids, or even the person we hire to do work for us.  When communication breaks down, everything breaks down.

I hope whatever makes its way to this blog will be well communicated.  If it is not, feedback and conversation can help make it clear.  This blog is what I mean, not anyone else, so feel free to disagree, but do so respectfully and cleanly or you will be eliminated, I mean your comments will be deleted.

The art of debate?

I have a confession to make:  I love to ‘set the cat among the pigeons’ or play ‘devil’s advocate’ in order to get a debate going.  I have found often that people don’t seem to know what I mean by ‘debate’.  A debate is a civil disagreement, if you will.  Each side expresses its own opinions and then defends itself to put it in a nutshell.  When a debate descends into argument and name calling, it has lost focus and there is no point in continuing.  Debate is “iron sharpening iron.” It is a way to learn about what others think and to defend what you believe – to  yourself and others.

Just ‘cuz?

If you believe what you believe ‘just because’, you do not really believe it.  Debate sharpens the mind and helps one learn how to know what he or she believes as well as defend that belief in a real way, using real communication.  One thing that associating with others who have different views does for one (in a perfect world) is help you figure out why you believe what you believe.  If you know why you believe it, you will be able to defend it.  This is crucial for all as we reach into adulthood, having often taken on the beliefs of our parents, and live in a world where others do not believe.  It’s alright to believe as one’s parents do, but it needs, at some point, to become real to you.  In other words:  you must believe it because you believe it and not because others do.  This involves self-searching awareness, and is often like pulling the hook when fishing.

Rabid disbelievers?

I can often tell when a person has genuine, thought out beliefs, not by what they believe, but by how they react with others who disagree.  When a person becomes like a rabid dog defending a bone, it tells me something about their belief system.  They are not strong enough in their belief system to stand in the face of those who would disagree or challenge them in any way.  When you know what you believe, why you believe it and how to defend it, you don’t need to descend into the depths of rage.

It’s all in the filter?

Remember everyone has their own family culture and their own experiences in life, even you, and these things filter how we perceive what others say.  This is one of the biggest detriments to real communication, because we’re not always aware of our filters or how to see through the eyes of the other person’s filter.  As an example:  I once called my husband a ‘slob’.  YIKES!  You would have thought I called him the worst thing in the world.  Why?  Because, to him, with his upbringing and his understanding of the word and his filters, it was a horrible word.  To me it was just a word that came up in an effort to hurt.  It wasn’t true, it was a weapon.  I just had no idea how powerful a weapon it was!  Now-a-days, I am more careful with my words because they may not mean the same thing to the person I’m talking about.  This is also how countries get in trouble because we have different traditions, cultures, meanings, and easily insult one another without meaning to.  It works the same way for people, so we have to be open to the idea that our words aren’t always saying what we mean or meaning what we say.

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